Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder 

Overview

ADHD is a brain-based biological disorder, usually first diagnosed in childhood, which is characterized by inattention, impulsivity, and, in some cases, hyperactivity. These symptoms usually occur together; however, one may occur without the others.

The symptoms of hyperactivity, when present, are almost always apparent by the age of 7 and may present in very young preschoolers. Inattention or attention-deficit may not be evident until a child faces the expectations of elementary school.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders are cared for by the physicians in the Division of Child Development and Division of Child Neurology at the NewYork-Presbyterian Phyllis and David Komansky Center for Children's Health, and through the Department of Psychiatry’s ADHD Service at Payne Whitney Manhattan.

Types of ADHD

Three major types of ADHD include the following:

ADHD, Combined Type The most common type of ADHD, it is characterized by impulsive and hyperactive behaviors as well as inattention and distractibility.

ADHD, Impulsive/Hyperactive Type The least common type of ADHD, it is characterized by impulsive and hyperactive behaviors without inattention and distractibility.

ADHD, Inattentive and Distractible Type This type of AHD is characterized predominately by inattention and distractibility without hyperactivity.

Causes of ADHD

ADHD is one of the most researched areas in child and adolescent mental health disorders. While the precise cause of the disorder is still unknown, available evidence suggests that ADHD is genetic. Low levels of dopamine (a brain chemical), which is a neurotransmitter (another type of brain chemical), are found in children with ADHD. Brain imaging studies using PET scanners (positron emission tomography; a form of brain imaging that makes it possible to observe the human brain at work) show that brain metabolism in children with ADHD is lower in the areas of the brain that control attention, social judgment, and movement.

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